By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 21, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – As is common at the start of a new year, local boards reorganize and appoint leaders for the calendar year and that exercise took place in Prince George last week as supervisors elected Donald Hunter and Floyd Brown, Jr. to serve as its leaders in 2019.
Unlike in year’s past where the organizational meeting took place during their regular board meeting, supervisors opted to take care of the annual procedural elections and adoption of various bylaws during their work session an hour prior.
Following a unanimous vote, supervisors elected District 2 Supervisor Hunter to the role of chairman after serving as vice-chair in 2018. For Hunter, he is humbled to be able to act in this role for his fellow board members.
“There had been some talk amongst ourselves about doing it, but actually being elected as chairman of the board of supervisors made me nervous,” he shared. “It is a big responsibility and it’s an honor to serve in this position to follow in the footsteps of those before me that I have looked up to all these years and respected for sitting in this chair because it’s an important job.”
As 2019 gets underway, Chairman Hunter revealed some county topics he’d like to see discussed in the county in the new year.
“We have a lot of things we’re looking at,” he said. “Things like another refuse site, that is something that is really important to some people. While it might not be important to some, there are others who it is as they are in the far reaches of the county where they have to drive 20 to 30 minutes to get to a place to dump their trash.”
Hunter continued, “We got the schools issues we have to consider, we have infrastructure needs we have to talk about, housing issues we need to address.”
“If we go ahead and build infrastructure to bring business into the county, be it commercial or industrial, you have to have workers to work in these places,” he said. “Housing is a big thing we need to stay on top of here in the county.”
He added that the budget remains a top priority as well, particularly as the budget-building season gets underway in the county with big-ticket items, like a $30+ million elementary school to replace one of the county’s aging facility and other priorities, remaining uncertain if it will be funded in the coming year.
Last year, supervisors agreed to cancel a proposed five-cent real estate tax increase that would’ve funded construction of the new elementary school.
“There’s always the budget issue,” he shared. “Nobody wants to go up on taxes but sometimes you do have to go up. I would like to believe we don’t have to go up, but I am afraid we might have to go up.”
Joining him in a leadership role on the board is one of its newest members as supervisors unanimously elected District 1 Supervisor Floyd Brown, Jr. to the position of vice-chair, his first time serving in the role since being elected to serve in November of 2017.
Following his appointment, he shared his thoughts on having the support of the board to serve in this capacity.
“It makes me feel good that they are willing to entrust in me the responsibility that comes with that position,” he said. “I will work extremely hard to uphold that and I do feel that I have some experience to bring to the table by being in other organizations and also being a part of [the Virginia Association of Counties], attending the various training sessions and trying to become a certified board member through their training.”
According to Brown, the newly elected official training offered by VACo to incoming members ranges from courses on leadership, to understanding the budget process, addressing conflict, and a host of others, all of which Brown said has paid dividends during his time on the board.
“I think the things I have learned already by being exposed to those classes are going to definitely help with being able to have a better relationship with the school board this coming year and how we do business overall,” he said.
Echoing the sentiments of Chairman Hunter, Vice-Chairman Brown said looking at the budget and addressing long-term county needs remain priorities for the coming year.
“We want to continue with things that we are doing to address infrastructure,” he said. “Also, getting some business here into the county to take this tax burden off of the citizens.”
Brown continued, “We still have some things that we really want to do but, we can’t do those things by just throwing them on the backs of our residents and citizens here in the county, so the sooner we start doing that, I think there are happier days to come.”
Both Hunter and Brown will serve in their roles through the end of the year. Hunter’s seat will be among the three that are up for election this November, along with the seats currently held by District 1’s Alan Carmichael and District 2’s TJ Webb.
When asked, Hunter said he intends to run for re-election.
“When I ran to begin with, I said I will put my paperwork in and let the people decide and if it’s God’s will for me to be up here, I will and if not, so be it,” he said. “I love Prince George, been here virtually all my life and I have a lot to tie me to the county.”